In this article, I will talk about one of our The Richard James Partners Club events, where all the attendees are required to consider themselves Entrepreneurial Attorneys, those that will take action on the ideas created together. Our Partners Club is a private mastermind group of lawyers where we discuss marketing, sales, and business management. Attorney members practice in several different practice areas like Bankruptcy, Family Law, Immigration, Criminal, and Personal Injury, among others.
Real Stories Exchanged Between Attorneys
At these events, we as a company are completely transparent about our business math, our sales process and training, and the way we continually attempt to bring value to our members. Thus, we set the stage for transparency and for all those in attendance to get real with everyone in the group. It’s quite frankly an amazing place to be if you’re an Entrepreneurial Attorney. You can feel the energy in the room.
When Jack Morrison got up and presented his book that he’s been working on for some time, the other members applauded his win. This accomplishment was the result of the many weekly interactions with Blaine Oelkers under what is called GSD (Get Sh*t Done) meetings. Then, in the first couple of weeks, after he returned to the office, Jack got a client from his book!
When Elden Sodowsky showed everyone his version of shock and awe all the jaws were on the floor. And when he told the story of turning lemons into lemonade by taking a potential competitor who moved into his office complex and turning him into a lead source, the excitement was palpable.
Bob Doig nailed it by bringing his book to completion and bringing on his first batch of phone people to start calling his unconverted leads. For the first time in his business in many years, he feels as if he’s taking the bull by the horns and contributing to the outcome of his firm.
Andres Mejer just communicated with me that he’s up more than 100% this year over last. We certainly don’t get credit for that, Andres does. But when you work on your business the way that Andres does, good things, unexpected things begin to happen; and before you know it, you’ll look up and realize you’re twice the size you once were (Your business that is…).
Maria Jones celebrated her 10th anniversary with over 550 people registered to attend her celebration event, and she once again demonstrated to everyone through her attitude why she has accomplished what she has accomplished.
Peter Daigle, whom I’ve mentioned over the last couple of months, amazed everyone with the sheer volume of things he’s accomplished in a very short time. He even found time to shoot his commercial in our studio while he visited Phoenix.
If all that were not enough, Tom McBride announced to everyone that in the past 12 months he’s gone from roughly 38% of his market to capturing over 60% of his market. I’ll bet you didn’t think that was possible. Well, Tom did, and now we’re working on keeping him there!
I could go on and on, really I could. There were so many WINS in a single event. I’m honored being surrounded by such great members, and each time I receive a thank you note I’m reminded that we are building something special.
Key Lessons About Hiring and Firing
Let’s unpack one of THE key lessons you must learn so you can walk away with something useful other than the desire to be one of those listed above: best practices about hiring and firing. Nearly all members, those who have staff, were suffering with some version of the question “Who is the right staff member for _____ position?” “What should I do about a staff member who is not performing well?” and “What do I do about the staff person I can’t live with, but seemingly can’t live without”.
Finding the Right Staff for Your Law Firm
While there are several answers to all of the questions above, THE key answer to all staff issues is to have the right hiring process in your law office. There were several cases where a Partner’s Club member was attempting to hire the right paralegal, business manager, or attorney, and sometimes they were trying to find the right phone person for legal calls. In each case, the answer is the same. There are rules that you must follow if you wish to put the right person in the right job. And if you didn’t follow these rules when you hired your current staff person, you may need to start over. Many lawyers fail to become the best lawyers and many firms struggle to become the best law firms because they are afraid to start anew.
You must first be able to clarify what job duties a person will be managing. You should have these listed in contracts so you can be clear upon hiring what is expected of that person and that they can be clear about what their job is. You should consider listing the key factors of these duties in the “Help Wanted” ad you eventually place.
Finding the Right Client
Develop your perfect team member avatar. Finding the right staff is no different than finding the right client. You must first know the type you’d like to attract so you can both craft a message that will resonate with them and place that message where they are most likely to be looking. Wait, Richard, does that mean I should treat my hiring process as a marketing project? Yep. If you can gain clarity on what you want your team member to look like, sound like and work like, you can better articulate that in the message. If you know the age group of those you are looking to hire, you can get creative with where you place your ad.
Craft an ad that forces them to jump through several hoops. The idea is not to get a bunch of resumes. The idea is to obtain a few qualified resumes. Be sure they do exactly what you tell them to do before allowing them to move to the next stage of the gauntlet you’ve designed. If you require this person to speak with your prospects or your clients, be sure to have them leave a voicemail prior to inviting them for an interview. This way you can hear what they sound like and if they can intelligently put two sentences together.
Bad Hires: How to Prevent It, and What to do About It
Before you hire them, be sure to have them tested by someone like Jay Henderson at Real Talent. He’ll blow your mind with some of the horror stories and inspire you with success. Give them a 90-day trial period escape clause. This way, if they think you’re nuts or if the job isn’t for them, or if they aren’t for you, you both figure it out quickly.
I don’t mean to ignore the bigger questions that arose from the meeting such as “What do I do now that my main attorney has decided to leave and his or her name is on ALL of my files?”, “What should I do about my office manager? She does so many things around the office, but I simply can’t live with her any longer?” In both of these cases, we found the responsibility for the problem staff member resided squarely on the shoulders of the member in question. Either they neglected to nurture the relationship with their attorney or they gave up too much control and turned a blind eye to the lies the office manager had been spewing for years. In these cases, the one thing that remained constant was the attitude of our members. They realize that making bad hires or management errors is all a part of the process, and while the short-term pain may be unbearable, everything happens just as it should; and learning to improve is all a part of being an Entrepreneurial Attorney.
If you want to listen to our March interview with Jay Henderson, click here.
The Key to Becoming one of the Top Law Firms
Even the largest law firms and the best lawyers in America sometimes commit mistakes. And this is not necessarily in their legal practice. At times, large law firms could be successful in providing legal representation in different fields of law, but they erroneously think that US law firm management is not essential. I'm telling you, it is.
The different areas of law are full of various legal issues. Be it arbitration and environmental law, banking and finance law, medical malpractice law, intellectual property law, or real estate law, I trust that you know your area of specialization well. You know what you are doing. But the key to becoming one of the biggest law firms, on top of the professionalism, is having a reliable management consultant advising you. This is key to becoming a leading law firm. And so I implore upon you, before you hire, put a process in place. A lawyer practicing in the United States who recognizes the need for a legal systems expert has a bigger shot at getting successful in his law business faster than his competitors.
And if you’ve already hired, be sure to inspect what you expect; and by all means, when you find a situation that isn’t right, don’t ignore it. Admit it, fix it and move on.
If you want to have your best month ever, become a professional salesperson. Join Our Partners Club and listen to real-life stories shared by different attorneys. The rewards are ongoing. Joining the program will give you access to your peers and updates on legal trends, what is happening in the industry, and marketing in general. Meeting like-minded entrepreneurial attorneys can give you an edge and help you become successful.
If you want to know how to reach your business goals and sales targets faster, consult our legal management consultant Richard James. You may also schedule a 1-on-1 consulting to get your customized practice growth plan. Building a better business, one management challenge at a time…